Tuesday, January 31, 2017

French Terry Shirt and Dress

  Before our Thanksgiving plans last year were cancelled by an untimely virus, I made some clothes for my older two daughters to wear that day. To start with, I made Booper an Uptown Downtown dress in French terry from Sincerely Rylee.

  Although I've sewn the Uptown Downtown dress before (here and here), this was my first time using it since it's been updated.

  I had high hopes for the update, but it looks like the main change was making the instructions include all of the different options that can be made from the add-on pack. Unfortunately, while the pattern itself was changed some, there are odd things going on like the shoulder seam sitting well behind the top of the shoulder, and the seams still aren't completely trued. I did think the layout of the instructions was interesting, and a little easier to use than the long-form of the original version. The new version has tabs for the different sections, such as pockets and the different neckline finishes. The instructions still use photos in some areas and illustrations in others.

  The main thing that bothered me, however, was the trimless pages. If your printer is like mine and prints in a slightly different spot on each page (the actual printed area is exactly the same size, just the margins change) it leads to a lot of inaccuracies and frustrations when assembling the pattern. I'd much rather spend the time cutting the edges off of the pages!

  I made the cowl-neck, long sleeved version this time, and included the pockets! I also did a twin-needle hem for the sleeves and skirt, for a change. =)

  Since I was using a French terry without much stretch, I went up a size from what Booper's measurements put her in. I'm glad I did, as it would have been too tight otherwise, particularly in the sleeves. I also lengthened the dress to below Booper's knees.

  I used a thinner, stretchier rayon-blend French terry for the cowl, and I love the way it drapes! It also hasn't pilled up quite as much as the polyester blend the rest of the dress is made of.

  Even if I wasn't enamored with the pattern update, Booper loves this dress... it currently receives the most frequent wearing of any item she owns!

  To make full use of the pattern once I'd gone through the rigmarole of assembly, I cropped it to hip-length and made a shirt for Gaiw, a size up from her measurements:

  I probably would have made her a dress too, but that French terry was on the pricier side, so I didn't buy much of it!

  Gaiw's shirt also has a cowl-neck, and twin-needled hems.

  She absolutely loves matching with Booper, so she was pretty happy with this shirt!

  However, the skirts she has that work with this shirt are either too big, like the one in these photos, or really, really worn out. (See that white blob to the right of Gaiw in the background of this picture? We have feral bunnies living in our yard.)

  So, this past week I made Gaiw a tiered skirt from some linen-blend fabric (this, but in the color 'moss') that I bought in Imagine Gnat's Black Friday sale.

  Being a linen blend, it does wrinkle up a lot (I gave the skirt a very thorough pressing only about fifteen minutes prior to taking these photos) but it seems like it doesn't wrinkle quite as much as a 100% linen fabric would.

  I've made tiered skirts using a ruffler foot before, but mine hasn't been cooperating lately, so I just used basting threads for the gathering. I went for a ratio of 1.75:1 for the tiers this time... I usually use at least 2:1 or higher, but I didn't want this one to be so full.

  I was in a bit of a hurry, and somehow I managed to complete the entire skirt, including measurements, calculations, and cutting, in a single morning. I clipped the final threads and was a little surprised to be finished!

  I considered making a flat-front waistband, but as I mentioned, I was in a rush, and Gaiw refuses to tuck her shirts in anyway, so I just made it elastic all around.

  The insides are all serged, and the hem is a simple double-fold.

  I suspect this skirt will get a lot of wear... it's not as colorful and bright as this little girl likes, but it certainly has enough twirl!

  I'll be back at some point with some shirts I made for myself last year! =)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Princess Dress and Party

  Gaiw turned 5 in December!

  She's still delighted by all things princess, so for her birthday I made her a fancy dress.

  I used this pattern but added puffed sleeves (I wish I'd made them puffier!) instead of the cap sleeves. I actually bought the pattern, but Stef, the designer is a friend, and refunded the cost with a sweet note, which pretty much made my whole week!

  I used pink satin and tulle from Fabric.com for this dress... the pattern has some pretty generous fabric requirements, but I was able to get the outer and lining of the dress from just 2.5 yards of satin! I decided to add some extra layers of tulle to the skirt so it would be super-fluffy, so I used a full 4 yards of 108" wide tulle for that. I also used some heavy-duty white tulle from Jo-Ann's. The satin ribbon is from Hobby Lobby and I had the trim and snaps on hand already.

  I changed the sewing order of the bodice a tiny bit because I changed the sleeve type. Aside from that and the extra layers of tulle, the only change I made was to skip the top-stitching around the waist seam. Or to be more accurate, I initially top-stitched but with so many shifty, fluffy layers, I bent a bunch of my pins and the seam was all over the place! So I picked it out. It probably would have worked if I'd hand-basted first, but in the end I decided to just leave it.

  I love the pickups on this skirt! But unfortunately the whole bows keep escaping up into the casings, so next time I think I would do two separate casings for each pick up.

  I used more of the trim around the sleeves, and did the lower section of gathers with elastic thread in the bobbin as usual:

  I used KAM snaps for the back instead of the recommended covered buttons and buttonholes... they look really cute, but the bottom snap is perpetually coming un-snapped, so buttons probably would have been better! There's also a bit of a gap where the top of the skirt meets the bodice... I think a hook and eye right at the waist seam would help.

  Gaiw absolutely loves this dress though... she's worn it at every possible opportunity! It's showing a little wear already... one sleeve has torn a bit and she and her sisters ripped big chunks out of the tulle because they wanted veils. But she doesn't care a bit!

  I also put together a fairly quick and simple party for her... I made a cake and ice cream, threw together some fabrics and decorations I had on hand, and made some crowns. Here's the cake:

  As usual with anything more than a very basic design, this was really tough for me, and didn't turn out nearly as well as I'd imagined it would! I froze my cake layers first but someone turned the heater way up and everything thawed before I realized why. So the towers were very tippy and crumbly. And the frosting wanted to melt on the outside... but that works anyway because it adds to the stone effect a little! I had planned to use sugar cones for the roofs of the towers but I only had two on hand, and there weren't any this time of year at the stores closest to us. So I improvised with a lot of aluminum foil to make the other two tower roofs!

  For the crowns, I slightly modified this technique. I used a spray-on fabric stiffener, so I coated the pieces of lace twice before painting them. I also let them dry completely after painting both sides, before forming them into a circle and gluing, because they were a little floppy when the paint was wet. 

  I used a DecoArt Dazzling Metallics paint in Glorious Gold and Rich Espresso, and Ceramcoat in glitter silver. That glitter one was definitely everyone's favorite... and since it was in the paint it didn't flake off everywhere, as glitter is wont to do!

  I loved making these... they were a lot of fun and I think they turned out beautifully! Although I couldn't figure out how to capture how sparkly these were in a photo! All of the materials for these were from Hobby Lobby.

  I made a quick sign with some torn watercolor paper, gold Pearl-Ex, and pink cardstock, all things I had on hand, to set in front of the crowns:

  I prettied up the table where the cake and crowns were by adding some fabrics... that adorable gold-dot knit is from Hobby Lobby (although it could have done with a steaming before I used it), and the thin pink satin was given to me a while back. And of course ruffle fabric for the backdrop!

  I added a little bowl of chocolate-covered almonds to the table at the last minute, and I also made plain vanilla ice cream that I didn't include in any of the photos, as well as some coconut milk ice cream for one sister-in-love who is allergic to dairy:

  The ruffled streamers were leftover from a baby shower a few years ago:

  And so were the pomanders:

  And that's the entire extent of the party! The crowns were the favors and I didn't plan any games. I've been ridiculously short on time to create lately so this was about all I could get done in time, and still be able to finish the girls' Christmas dresses. But the important thing was that Gaiw liked it, and she did. =)

  Gaiw is a very interesting little girl... she's always thinking big thoughts with her sparkly eyes wide and you never know what she's going to blurt out next! She's a little butterfly, always flitting from one thing to the next faster than I can follow.

  She's been surprising me lately by doing chores without being asked to... even making her sister's bed one day! And she loves to wrap toys up in old boxes and gift them to people.

  Gaiw loves her fruits and vegetables... salad remains high on the list of requested foods for her! But she's also quite fond of sweets!

  She absolutely loves art and spends hours each day creating vibrant pieces portraying adorably funny little people, and writes, 'I love you!' on almost all of them. =) We love our Gaiw -our family just wouldn't be the same without her!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gabriola Skirt And Cowl Sweater

  Back in October, I had bought some brown suiting to coordinate with some brown medallion print fabric, with plans to turn it into a dress for my mother. When she changed her mind and decided on a blouse instead, I was left with three yards of fabric, cut as a two-yard and a one-yard piece.

  I've had the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt pattern for a long time... I bought it in a sale in early 2015, but I never made it because I was pregnant at the time, and ever since she was born I've been just outside the size range for the pattern. However, I took a look at the finished garment measurements and thought that the largest size might be wearable anyway, so I decided to see if I could squeak it out of the brown suiting. I had to cut the whole skirt on the cross-grain, but I managed it! It's supposed to be maxi-length, but I'm taller than average and didn't have an inch to spare to lengthen the skirt, so it's not quite that long.

  Unfortunately, the fabric is 100% polyester, which not only smells bad but presses horribly, so the result isn't fantastic. The seams are really bubbly, and the hem is pretty bad too! I'm thinking I'll try pressing everything with vinegar and see if it helps at all.

  The fit isn't great either, which I kind of expected since it's meant to be worn by someone smaller, but it's not tight or uncomfortable and I have a clothing shortage at the moment, so it's going to get worn anyway.

  I had the worst time with this zipper! I don't know if it was the fabric, or the fact that I usually use invisible zippers, or what, but this was the best out of... I think it was four attempts, all of them involving basting or glue-basting as well as pins in a futile effort to keep the thing lined up while I sewed it! At least the seams mostly match up, but I have no plans to put in this type of zipper in this type of fabric ever again! It's pretty obvious from this photo that the back of the skirt is riding up because it's too small too.

  I've got some odd bumps going on around the hips...I'm not sure why. I suspect I may have introduced a slight jog near the seam intersections, or maybe it got a little stretched when I was sewing it.

  The yoke is my favorite feature of this dress, but since I almost always wear my shirts untucked, it's not really visible. At least that means the lumpiness and zipper don't show! ;-) I spent a lot of time lining up the seams:

  I also spent a very large amount of time embroidering a rose on it! I got plenty of practice satin-stitching in, and I think it turned out all right. I didn't have it hooped, but I wish I had because I think it would have prevented me from pulling my thread too tight. Here's a close view. (Please excuse the lint... this was washed once before I managed to get photos and I didn't realize how much lint the embroidery had caught until it was too late!)

  And here's the whole thing... I think this would work better with the scale of the skirt if I'd made it larger, and there are a lot of other little changes I would make next time (like using long-and-short stitch instead of satin stitch) but overall I'm pretty happy with it.

  I had planned to make an Alma blouse from plaid fabric to coordinate with my daughters' dresses, but I ended up with just one evening to sew it so I turned to knit fabric and a very modified Lane Raglan (I would have preferred set-in sleeves but raglan sleeves are faster). I bought this beautiful textured double knit from Imagine Gnats on Black Friday, and since I wanted to wear it with this skirt (which I'd finished in November) I decided to turn it into a cowl-neck sweater. At least, that was the plan. Last minute drafting of the cowl didn't leave time for a muslin, so it ended up as a strange mixture of a cowl and a Bertha collar.

  I used the original neckline of the Lane Raglan, because I didn't want the cowl to be uncomfortably snug, and thought the added height of the cowl would give it enough coverage for me to not feel exposed, but with the collar ending up less like a cowl than I'd planned, it is a little too open for me.

  This fabric didn't have quite as much recovery as I'd expected (it was also thicker than I expected -it's described as medium weight but it's more what I'd think of as heavy weight) so the neckline stretched out just enough to be a problem as I sewed it. I initially sewed it with the seam on the inside of the shirt, but it showed, so I unpicked the serging, and sewed it with the seam allowances between the cowl and the shirt, and sort-of remedied the stretched out bits by adding some clear elastic in the seam.

  I added some width to the pattern to make it a slightly looser fit, but I should have also straightened the side seams some. I lengthened the sleeves too... I prefer slightly over-long sleeves on sweaters.

  This fabric lettuce-edged beautifully!

  My sewing for myself hasn't worked out very well for the past year or so... it seems like everything I sew for myself has multiple shortcomings and fit problems. Or maybe I'm just getting pickier? In spite of all of them though, I really like to wear these two garments... these are some of my favorite colors, and I love the textures, plus embroidery and swishy skirts make me happy.

  I'm hoping I'll be happier with the things I sew for myself in the coming year, but in the meantime I've got several other less-than-perfect things to blog about. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,